Diabetes and heart disease have a direct connection, with the diabetic up to four times more likely to die from heart attack. The good news? It’s manageable, even preventable.
The impact of diabetes
Many older adults struggle with diabetes, or linger at the tipping point between abnormally high blood sugar and a formal diagnosis.
But what does it actually mean to someone with the disease, making it so important to conquer with better eating habits and physical activity?
The number has skyrocketed to include half of all Americans aged 65 or older, according to diabetes.org.
Diabetes can reduce the independence of an older adult, requiring lifestyle modifications to manage the disease. They’re suddenly at risk of complications and health risks of other conditions due to the vulnerabilities triggered by the diabetes.
It can eventually lead to a need for full-time assisted living care, as the diabetes increasingly compromises the health of the diabetic.
Already at a high risk from diabetes as the seventh leading cause of death, the diabetic is also far more vulnerable to the number one cause: heart disease.
A diabetic is also more at risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Learn more here.
How diabetes leads to heart damage
High blood sugar is a known risk factor of heart disease, just like smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol increase the risk. It’s common knowledge. Because it increases fatty material inside of our blood vessels, the danger of blockage is increased, along with the risk of heart attack or stroke.
The vessels also become stiff and hard, making it easier for the fats to stick to the walls of the blood vessels. When a fat deposit hits a curve on its way into the heart, it’s more likely to cause a pile-up of other deposits behind it, much like a car accident at a freeway stack.
But there’s another risk most aren’t aware of.
Because a diabetic has a higher level of glucose in their blood, the composition—the viscosity—of the blood is thicker causing damage to the blood vessels and nerves on its way to the heart.
Those with diabetes tend to develop heart disease at a younger age than those without the condition and up to four times more likely to die from it.
Type 2 diabetes is often preventable
Diabetes has some rather frightening implications, but Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. Blood sugar levels can be reduced with healthier eating choices,increased physical activity and medications if necessary.
Managing diabetes isn’t just about the disease itself, but how it affects longevity and quality of life, too. Isn’t that worth a few lifestyle modifications?
Sun Health’s Center for Health & Wellbeing offers accredited Diabetes Self Management Education, Diabetes Prevention classes, along with related health classes, nutrition counseling and personal health coaching. Visit our website to learn more, or find the nearest upcoming class to your location.